Author: Frederic Gabry
Before the race
At Paris Marathon I was slightly better prepared than Dennis. However during the 6 weeks leading up to Stockholm Marathon (SM), Dennis managed to prepare very nicely while I had to decrease the mileage due to various reasons. I ran a 10km 2 weeks prior to SM in 34:39 in the woods of Paris with good sensations, while Dennis ran Kungsholmen Runt in 1:19:03. Hence we were expecting to be roughly at similar shape for the race, something around 2h45.
I came back to Stockholm on Thursday night for the first time since December, and I realize how I had missed the city! I spent quite some time walking in the city on that evening, just for old times’ sake.
The pre-race plan, if we can call it so, was discussed at Zhao’s Ph.D. defense dinner in Pong buffet. We decided to go at around 3:50pace until hopefully Stadion, or at least as far as we could. If we could follow a group or some runners that we expected to be at sub2:45, this would be even better. I had convinced Hartmut, a colleague of mine from Paris to join the race as well, and he was attempting a 3h30 time that would be, if successful, a 30min improvement over his PB. My hope was to be able to run the last 4-5kms with him to provide some help. This would not happen as planned, though…
After a relatively good sleep and some light breakfast (followed by some more sleep) with Hartmut in my old apartment next to KTH, it was time for a quick warm-up and a long run.
Legs were feeling heavy, as usual for me during marathon warm-ups… I had packed 3 of my favorite energy gels (they have the uncommon characteristic to not taste like toxic waste), and we were in our vintage Midnattsloppet 2011 shirt. No rain until 11:59:59, BOOM here we go! And the rain starts with us.
After a relative uneventful first 10km, it was clear that 1) we were going for a steady pace that felt easy to me 2) I had to pee 3) It was going to feel cold at some point. Point 2) was solved at the 12km mark when Dennis kindly dropped his key, which allowed me to take a 20sec break. Point 1) and 3) however were more problematic as it seemed after 15km that we will not be able to break the best limit we could hope for pre-race: 2h40. However PB, that is roughly sub 2h45, was still possible assuming an even pace all race. Point 3) also came into play at kilometer 24km while entering Djurgården, as my shoe laces untied and with stiff hands I was not able to re-lace them. This was the lowest point for me in the race as Dennis, after waiting a long while for me thought I was done for and started “running again”. Fortunately a race funktionär was nice enough to expertly tie my laces, and with that rush of adrenalin, I went on with a quicker pace to come back with Dennis, which was managed after a 26th km at 3:34pace!
The rest of the race went quite easily afterwards, even though legs were obviously becoming stiffer. We were still discussing at regular intervals, which might have slowed us down overall, but made the race really enjoyable. At km 38, we passed legend Swedish runner Anders Szalkai and Dennis was very happy to be able to exchange a few words with him. At km 40 we began discussing our triumphal entrance in Stadion, and we settled for the hand holding strategy as illustrated below. We finished 103rd and 104th , with a satisfying 2h46min20sec time.
After the traditional duo photo by Dennis’ mom, it was time to unfreeze!
After the race
The most painful part was only beginning as we were completely frozen, and I have a very bad resistance to cold. I obviously skipped my plan to pick up Hartmut, being unable to hold things or utter intelligible words other than “Ca va”. Walking back home took 30minutes for a 2km walk through Stora Skogen… After a warm shower everything was OK again, and the feeling was overwhelmingly positive. Sure we had not gone as fast as we could considering the weather conditions, our 2 stops and our “take-it-easy” behavior during the race, but it was so much better than in Paris marathon when we had to run the last 20kms alone. Finishing together in a crowded Stadion despite the rain was a unique feeling that beats any time on the watch consideration. Hartmut was also very pleased with the race, having realized a 3h29 time, beating his previous PR by more than 30minutes! We all celebrated at Dennis’ friends on that night with jacuzzi, sauna, beer and good food on the program and in that moment it all felt worth it. To the next one!